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Patriots practice Thursday: Brandon Spikes returns, Alfonzo Dennard, Aaron Dobson, Marcus Cannon absent

12.05.13 at 11:28 am ET
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FOXBORO — Linebacker Brandon Spikes returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday for what was likely a “maintenance” rest day.

The hard-hitting run-stopping linebacker was on Wednesday’s injury report for a “non-injury related” issue, though he has been dealing with a sore knee for several weeks, as indicated on previous injury reports.

Three other players were absent, including Alfonzo Dennard, who left the team to deal with a court appearance in Nebraska.

Two other Patriots were absent due to injury as rookie receiver Aaron Dobson continues to nurse a foot injury that forced him to miss Sunday’s game in Houston. Dobson played just 36 of 87 snaps against the Broncos on Nov. 24 before showing up on the injury report last week. The team re-signed Austin Collie Thursday morning for wide receiver depth.

Marcus Cannon injured his ankle against the Broncos in the first half against the Broncos and was replaced by Will Svitek for the remainder of the game. Cannon was not active last Sunday against Houston, marking the first game he has missed this season.

For the second straight day, the team worked out in sweats and shells on the lower practice fields and will practice again on Friday in preparation for the Browns this Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Read More: Brandon Spikes, Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, nfl

Alfonzo Dennard due in court in Nebraska

12.05.13 at 11:11 am ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” Alfonzo Dennard was not at Patriots practice on Thursday. Instead, he was headed for a court appearance in Nebraska.

A probation sentencing in Lancaster District Court is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET while a DUI sentencing is scheduled for Friday at the same time, also at Lancaster County Court.

However. Dennard’€™s lawyer, Alan Stoler, told the Boston Herald Wednesday that Dennard filed a request for a continuance to delay the DUI sentencing until after the NFL season.

Stoler is hoping Dennard’€™s compliance with his probation terms would be enough to convince the judge to grant the continuance. Stoler told the Herald that Dennard has completed more than 65 hours of probation work since September and could finish the remainder of his 100 hours by the end of the season, even though he has two years to complete the terms.

According to the Herald, Dennard’€™s hours have included time working with the Foxboro Police Department, the Boys & Girls Club and some youth speaking engagements to raise awareness of the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

Meanwhile, Dennard should find out Thursday if he is granted the continuance. Dennard is required to appear on Friday to formally enter a plea, and Stoler said Dennard is still undecided if he’€™ll plead guilty or not guilty.

On Sept.’€‰16, Dennard acknowledged violating the terms of his two-year probation. He faces a maximum of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine, which was his same potential fate for being found guilty in February of assaulting a police officer outside of a Lincoln, Neb., bar in April 2012. Dennard was sentenced in March to two years of probation and a suspended 30-day jail sentence in March 2014.

However, Dennard was arrested July 11 for suspicion of driving under the influence and straddling the lane lines in Lincoln. That led to the probation revocation hearing in which a judge accepted his responsibility of guilt. In a worst-case scenario, Dennard could get thrown in jail after today’€™s sentencing.

The outcome of Dennard’€™s DUI case is unrelated to his probation revocation.

Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, Lincoln, Nebraska Cornhuskers, New England Patriots

Patriots re-sign WR Austin Collie

12.05.13 at 10:35 am ET
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FOXBORO — With a foot problem plaguing Aaron Dobson, the Patriots have brought back a somewhat familiar face for depth in the receiving corps.

The Patriots Thursday re-signed Austin Collie. The 28-year-old was originally signed by the Patriots on Oct. 3 and then released on Nov. 5. Collie played in four games and was released during the bye week. He caught three passes for 34 yards, including two key receptions against the Saints in the last-minute 30-27 win on Oct. 13.

Collie is in his fifth NFL season after spending four seasons with Indianapolis (2009-12). The 6-foot, 204-pounder originally entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick (127th overall) of the Colts out of Brigham Young in 2009. He was signed by the San Francisco 49ers as an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 2, 2013, but was released by the 49ers on Aug. 31.

Collie has played in 46 NFL games with 17 starts and has registered 176 receptions for 1,879 yards and 16 touchdowns. He played in four games with one start for the Patriots and registered three receptions for 34 yards.

Read More: Aaron Dobson, austin collie, Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots

Tom Brady on playing 60 good minutes: ‘We’ve got to start doing that at some point’

12.04.13 at 6:48 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Tom Brady knows the potential of these Patriots. He also knows it’s about time they start showing it for a whole game.

This weekend presents that opportunity as the 4-8 Cleveland Browns come calling at Gillette Stadium for a showdown with the 9-3 Patriots, who with a win, can clinch a playoff spot and possibly a division title.

With so much on the line, the Patriots do not want to come out and begin the game like they did last Sunday in Houston against the two-win Texans. They trailed 10-0 early and 17-7 at halftime.

“I know, We’€™ve started slow too many times this year, and it’€™s hard to keep playing from behind,” Brady said. “I think we talk about it; we’€™re trying to get better at it. There’€™s no magic formula, just like there’€™s really no magic formula to what we’€™re doing in the second half. It’€™s just really the execution needs to be a lot better at the start of the game, and really we’€™ve got to have great execution for the entire game.

“That’€™s the most important thing. We’€™ve played some really good teams, really good defenses that have put a lot of pressure on us, so it’€™s hard sometimes to play 60 good minutes of football, but we’€™ve got to start doing that at some point. We’€™ve had some ups and downs, but we’€™ve got to put together a good game.”

Brady was also asked if he had heard about or seen the video of Cleveland back-up QB Alex Tanney, who is splitting reps in practice while Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden are cleared for activity but not practice. In the video, Tanney is the “Minnesota Fats” of football, turning every pass into a trick shot.

“I haven’€™t seen it,” Brady admitted. “I will look it up. I remember the kicking . That was pretty good. I saw that one.”

Brady was advised that the video is a “must see.”

“All right, I’€™ll check it out,” Brady said.

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Read More: Alex Tanney, Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, nfl

Patriots Wednesday injury report: Brandon Spikes (non-injury), Aaron Dobson (foot) DNP

12.04.13 at 5:46 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” As it turns out, Brandon Spikes was not at practice on Wednesday due to a non-injury matter. The team does not specify on its official injury report if it was simply a “maintenance” day for additional rest or some other issue. Spikes has been on the injury report for the last several weeks with a knee issue but that was not the case on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, after missing his first game Sunday since the opener in Buffalo, rookie receiver Aaron Dobson was again held out due to a foot injury apparently suffered in the 34-31 win over the Broncos on Nov. 24. He played just 36 of 90 offensive snaps against Denver and did not practice last week before being held out against Houston.

Michael Hoomanawanui returned for the first time since his knee injury against Carolina on Nov. 18, leading to the release of back-up tight end D.J. Williams on Wednesday afternoon.

Rob Gronkowski was again listed as limited with back, forearm and hamstring issues but his ankle was not listed on the official report despite tweaking it on Sunday in Houston.

Here is Wednesday’s complete report:

Did Not Practice
WR Aaron Dobson (foot)
RT Marcus Cannon (ankle)
LB Brandon Spikes (not injury related)

Limited Participation
CB Kyle Arrington (groin)
TE Michael Hoomanawanui (knee)
CB Marquice Cole (shin)
CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee)
S Steve Gregory (finger)
TE Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm/hamstring)
CB Aqib Talib (hip)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins (hip)
OT Will Svitek (ankle)

Full Participation
WR Danny Amendola (groin)
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder)
WR Matthew Slater (wrist)
RB Shane Vereen (wrist)

Read More: Aaron Dobson, Brandon Spikes, Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots

Patriots release TE D.J. Williams

12.04.13 at 5:23 pm ET
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FOXBORO — One week after signing him for roster depth, the Patriots Wednesday released tight end D.J. Williams.

The 25-year-old was signed by the Patriots on Nov. 27 and saw limited action in the win last Sunday at Houston, playing four snaps. He was not targeted in the passing game.

The release of Williams comes on the same day that tight end Michael Hoomanawanui returned to practice after missing two games with a knee injury.

Williams played in seven games with one start for Jacksonville this season before being released by the Jaguars on Nov. 4. The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder originally entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick (101st overall) by Green Bay out of Arkansas in 2011. Williams was waived by Green Bay on Aug. 31, 2013, and claimed off waivers and awarded to Jacksonville on Sept. 1, 2013. He has played in 34 NFL games with three starts and has nine receptions for 70 yards.

Read More: D.J. Williams, houston texans, Michael Hoomanawanui, New England Patriots

Aqib Talib thinks Josh Gordon belongs in same company as Calvin Johnson

12.04.13 at 2:40 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Browns may be 4-8 with a weekly quarterback crisis, but they have a record-setting receiver who has accomplished something in the last two weeks that’s never been seen in the NFL — ever.

Josh Gordon broke his own week-old Browns record with 261 receiving yards on 10 catches last week in a 32-28 home loss to the Jaguars. He set the previous record a week earlier against Pittsburgh with 237 yards receiving. Gordon is the only player in NFL history to top 200 yards in back-to-back games. His 498 yards in consecutive games and 623 yards in his last three games are both NFL records, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

With such gaudy numbers, Gordon — in his second season out of Baylor — is quickly being mentioned in the same company as Detroit’s Calvin Johnson and Houston’s Andre Johnson. Patriots corner Aqib Talib — who figures to draw him in some coverage this week — can see the justification for those comparisons.

“He reminds you of those names, the Calvin Johnsons, the Andre Johnsons, just bigger guys with little guys’ speed and quickness. He can turn an 8-yard curl into a touchdown in a heartbeat. Definitely a challenge.”

Gordon, who stands 6-foot-4 and is listed at 225 pounds, is second in the NFL in receiving yards (1,249) this year. Only Calvin Johnson (1,299) has more.

“You get a guy who’s 235 pounds who runs like he’s 35 pounds,” Talib said, adding 10 pounds to his frame. “That’s definitely a challenge.”

As for who will be getting him the ball, the Browns haven’t made up their mind yet. Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, Caleb Hanie and Alex Tanney are all technically in the mix.

How is Gordon doing it with practically a new QB every week?

“Preparation, I guess,” Gordon said in a conference call Wednesday. “Just preparation and perseverance through the rough season and some tough losses we had on the offensive side. Just really pushing through and trying to stay determined to have a good season.

“It’€™s definitely not normal. I don’€™t think there are too many wide receivers who have to deal with that in a single season. It’€™s kind of rough. We’€™re still dealing with it now. We’€™re not really sure as to what we’€™re going to do, where we’€™re going to go, but I know coach [Rob Chudzinski] will make the right decision and it seems as though they’€™ve tried to thus far. But, it is pretty rough to get a good rhythm with one quarterback when there have been so many changes. It’€™s definitely something you can’€™t get used to.”

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Read More: Aqib Talib, Calvin Johnson, Cleveland Browns, Josh Gordon

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